Saturday, December 08, 2007

On Banning, Being Banned, And Hurt Feelings On The Internet

ER addresses a person who has betrayed his real name, called him un-Christian, and done other things one would think were beneath a minister of the gospel. This same person has the habit of serially "banning" individuals from his web log when they provoke interesting, or even heated discussion through disagreement.

Now, in the recent past, I have engaged in heated discussions with others both here and on their own web logs. I have removed myself from those kinds of discussions for the most part, and do not venture to their internet sites for the simple reason that I do not need the aggravation. The approach most of those persons take is one not of a willingness to engage the ideas of others, but to confront disagreement as error, sometimes dangerous error. Some engage in personal attacks of the meanest sort, bullying rather than doing the hard work of engaging in an exchange of ideas. Some admit they will not consider the thoughts and positions of those who believe differently, a wonderful display of open-mindedness.

Banning is the last resort of the fearful. Even though I have removed myself from engaging others on their territory and their terms does not mean I would ever even consider banning anyone here. Anyone and everyone is welcome - as long as they do not get too personal, too profane, or express ideas that are hateful towards others. I still will not "ban" them, because that is impossible short of turning on message review via email, which I do not have the time to do.

It seems that Pastor Timothy is think-skinned, and unwilling to deal with those who disagree with him. I suppose I have been accused of the same faults, but my problems with others on the internet have little to do with me, and more to do with a style of interaction, a style that sometimes includes an apparent lack of understanding, or deliberate misrepresentation of my own express ideas.

One thing I have little patience for is ignorance. If one admits one does not know something, but is willing to listen and learn, and perhaps argue a point or two along the way - that's wonderful. If one admits one knows nothing, but plows ahead without fear, however, that is a horse of a different color. The phrase, "not suffering fools gladly" is one I apply to myself. Not because I am a genius and know everything; not because I expect people to understand every word I write, because very often what I write is a muddle, and not clear even to me. The "fools" I do not "suffer" are those who, through some strange alchemy of ignorance and arrogance, concoct the strangest blog posts I have ever read.

So, once again - I will not ban anyone here. I think "banning" is a sign of cowardice, and something to be laughed at rather than anything else. Finally, yes, feelings do get hurt, arguments get heated, people go away angry, or confused, sometimes even betrayed a bit by others. I suppose the trick is to decide where one will draw the line in discussing various issues. My line is simple - no one is allowed their own facts, no one is allowed to claim that black is white, and no one - and I mean NO ONE - is allowed to call in to question either the faith, or ultimate status before God of any other human being, ever, for any reason. Beyond that, the door is always open, someday if I figure out how, the radio will always be on, and we can carry on these little discussions as long as need be.

Virtual Tin Cup

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